tv NBC Nightly News NBC July 31, 2011 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
on our broadcast tonight, deal or default? what's it going to be after an excruciating weekend in washington? and growing outrage in our country. is a compromise actually starting to happen. >> total frustration. >> tonight, how it got to this. and special coverage leading up to our unprecedented access on capitol hill. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television from nbc news world headquarters in new york this is "nbc nightly news" with brian williams. >> good evening. it sure looked for a while earlier today like congress was going to do something. hammer out a solution that
avoided walking right up to the brink of tuesday's deadline when the nation is due to default on its financial obligations. but as this day wore on, congress started looking a lot more like the congress we have watched every day this past week. tonight, there are hints and whispers and indications, so far nothing more, that something of some sort is coming, something close to an agreement. let's start off with the very latest beginning with nbc's kelly o'donnell who's been camped out on the hill again today. kelly, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. the really promising part of this day has been who's talking to whom? the president and republicans have been in the same conversation. then you've got the top four leaders in congress who've been piecing together what's sort of the framework of what we think the ultimate compromise might be. here's the hard part. all of the members who actually get to vote have not been read in on the details. and there are some things they may not be so happy about. we've seen how predictable those
votes can be. tonight, within minutes of this crush that surrounded the senate's top democrat, harry reid signed off on a deal that came from the white house and republicans. >> both the president and vice president called me and the president talked to the speaker as well. >> reporter: signs of real cooperation, not just talk. reid told waiting senators they better stay close. >> i would not suggest a ball game now. >> reporter: republicans went back to the table working directly with the president and vice president. >> i think we're close. >> reporter: david plouffe on "meet the press" was optimistic, too. >> i think it's clear we'll have debt reduction in two stages. >> reporter: the deal is shaping up like this. raise the debt ceiling by up to $2.8 trillion in two installm t installmen installments. stage one one cut $1 trillion in spending. launch a new super committee evenly split between parties to find up to $1.8 trillion in extra savings by november.
stage two, if congress fails to actually make those recommended cuts, by the end of that election year, that kicks in automatic spending cuts including medicare and defense. after the maddening display of inaction that lit up the phones on capitol hill all week -- >> senator's office. >> reporter: -- and fired up the public. >> the 11th hour now. time to get this done for the american people. >> reporter: tourists outside the capitol today want this over. >> i'm concerned because i feel like they're not dealing with the average person. >> it's not red and blue. this is a time for everyone to come together. >> reporter: both sides acknowledge a deal must include ways to compel congress to make super debt reductions. >> there should be a sword of equal shapeness and strength hanging over his party's head. obviously the sword hanging over the head of democrats are the cuts. we don't like them. >> reporter: republicans don't like the threat of deeper defense cuts. democratic leaders get the job of finding enough house and senate democrats to sport a
white house deal with republicans. and one of the things that just bubbled up is we're hearing from all over the capitol new concerns about the defense cuts in the first year. that hadn't been the hot button issue until today. that's the kind of detail that could throw this over the rails or make it something they can sort out. but there has been a general sense of things being really much more hopeful today. we still can't say there's a deal. brian? >> kelly, let's hope somebody listens to those folks you interviewed outside who seemed to be making a lot of sense. kelly o'donnell starting us off on the hill. we want to go cross town in washington, the other end of pennsylvania avenue. our chief white house correspondent chuck todd. >> reporter: everybody is waiting for john boehner to sign off on this deal. it goes right to what kelly's reporting. it's this issue of how deep would the defense cuts be, not just in the deal itself in the first part, but also in the size of it, in the so-called trigger.
you heard truchuck schumer talk about having the sharp-edged sword hanging over the head. because you're not going to have taxes hanging over to compel this super committee to work, the other solution was the threat of pretty deep defense cuts. well, now house republicans are balking and there's a lot of hang wri hand wringing over this. this has been an odd soap opera today. the first part of the day everyone thought it was democrat k holding off on the deal. republicans were saying they're there, they're there, they're there. then democrats signed on. all of the sudden they're balking. if issue goes back to the same issue we've been dealing with for weeks. how does this get through the house? nobody has a path yet. >> yet another groundhog day in washington, d.c. for that matter, the rest of the country. chuck todd at the white house, we'll talk to you later. what about the damage just this process has done? whether we have a deal or no deal, the whole world has been
watching this. the ratings agencies, the markets, and the numbers do tell part of this story. we are coming off the worst week in a year for the dow with stocks down 4.2%. the question is will a deal fix that and restore faith? our friend carl quintanilla has come over from cnbc headquarters. what happens? what do you think they're going to be looking for? >> clearly the market would love any kind of compromise. if you get that look for a very sharp rally. asian markets will start trading tonight. that'll give us an early indication as to how we might trade. any rally might be short lived. the data has not been good. the economy has very little cushion. once the spending cuts are laid out, the market is going to say what are the effects going to be on jobs? fewer firefighters. less local and state spending. a jobs market this friday that will not be good probably. the market might be bracing for more of those. >> starting tonight and tomorrow morning, you and your pals at
cnbc will be watching all those. as always, thank you. let's take a further step back now and look at how all of this looks. andrea mitchell as covered a lot of politics in washington over the years. she's standing by in our d.c. newsroom tonight. andrea, you've seen them come and seen them go. this has hardly been a profile in courage. have you ever seen anything like this? >> i actually never have. we've had crises before, political crises. we've had in our lifetime 9/11, katrina, other national emergencies, tragedies. in one case or another, in all of those cases, one branch of government at least, if one failed the other would step in. in this case all branches of government, our entire government seems to be dysfunctional. it's even questioning in people's minds the checks and balances that was the genius of the framers. now it's stalemate. it's gridlock. i've never seen anything where there have been so little leadership and where people are angry, disgusted and i think really rebellious out there.
people are wanting change and they don't know how to get it. >> and a new dynamic, andrea, in washington at least in the time you and i have been watching things, some members have come to town and they don't care if they get re-elected. that is a whole new dynamic. they are here for a single issue and are willing to go down in flames at the polls if they achieve it or don't. >> there has always been anger among leaders and among the followers, the rank and file, the caucus. these new members really are willing to tear the place down. and they not only don't care whether they're not re-elected, they don't want pork. there are no inducements to get them to follow the speaker or other leaders. they don't want the traditional methods of buying loyalty here. and that was a reform that now has changed the dynamic. >> all right. andrea mitchell from our washington newsroom, wish there was better news to report to folks. especially about our era in government.
andrea, thanks. we'll have more on this later. of course, tonight is the night we are airing our special hour. "a day in the life of the u.s. capitol." this past week for one day, we at nbc news descended on the building. we received extraordinary access to what was going on inside. and, believe me, that means the good, the bad and the ugly. and it all airs tonight here on nbc. and we have more this evening on an extraordinary exchange we shared with you here last night between front line troops in afghanistan and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, admiral mike mullen who's visiting them this weekend. somewhat unbelievably, several u.s. troops said their major concern was not getting paid because of this budget fight in washington. in response, mullen was blunt. he said it would be devastating. well, today our pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski followed up in an exclusive conversation with admiral mullen. >> reporter: brian, admiral
mullen fully expected to talk to the soldiers and marines about the war here in afghanistan. not the one in washington. >> they weren't talking about afghanistan. they weren't talking about the fight they were in. this isn't surprising, but when you're deployed you want to make sure everything's okay at home. >> soldiers and marines in the middle of a war zone worrying about getting paid. >> they always worry about getting paid. they just sort of expect it to happen. >> reporter: you said that if, in fact, paychecks were held up, that many in the services would be devastated by missing a single paycheck. what do you mean by that? >> over half of us are married now. we're living paycheck to paycheck. so each paycheck means a lot. they count on it. so somehow i would certainly hope we could work our way through this so that these young men and women who are sacrificing so much, that you've seen this week in afghanistan, don't have to worry about this. >> reporter: but admiral mullen is worried and says if the debt talks fail, he has no idea how
or if the military will be paid. brian? >> jim miklaszewski, traveling with the chairman of joint chiefs, the u.s. exclusive interview there tonight. there is bad news out of syria this evening. government forces opened fire in the city of hama. a stronghold of the opposition. and they killed at least 75 people. president obama upon learning the news fired off a statement from the white house condemning the violence against the syrian people. we get the latest tonight from nbc's mike taibbi. >> reporter: dawn broke with thick smoke from tank fire surrounding the city of hama, about 130 miles north of demascus. in this amateur video described as coming from the scene, they said the government set fire to vehicles. the narrater described a coordinated attack using tanks and ground crews that unconfirmed reports said left scores dead and hundreds
wounded. many of the casualties reportedly shot at point-blank range. one blogger wrote that government troops even surrounded the city's main hospital to prevent treatment of the wounded. government forces also confronted protesters in other syrian cities. children among the victims. the death toll nationwide as more than 1,600 now in these months of largely peaceful protests. but hama has been a plash point city in control of activists who promise daily demonstrations until assad relinquishes power. with a growing number of government troops reportedly defecting to the protesters' side, one protest leader called today's attack an act of desperation by a regime in its last days. mike taibbi, nbc news, tunisia. the families of two american hikers detained in iran were hoping a hearing today would have led to their freedom. but no such thing. iranian authorities who have accused the pair of being spies
are not ready to announce a verdict. they say now it could be many more days away. investigators from the ntsb are in guyana tonight trying to find out why yesterday's caribbean airlines flight from new york spllid off the runway d broke apart. a very important aspect of this story, all 162 people on board that 737 survived. still to come this sunday night, tonight nbc's kate snow has just arrived in a place of desperation. the situation that the whole world is watching. [ woman ] we take it a day at a time. that's how it is with alzheimer's disease. she needs help from me. and her medication. the exelon patch -- it releases medication continuously for twenty-four hours. she uses one exelon patch daily for the treatment of mild to moderate alzheimer's symptoms. [ female announcer ] it cannot change the course of the disease. hospitalization and rarely death have been reported in patients who wore more than one patch at a time. the most common side effects of exelon patch
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right now before we get to a live satellite report from overseas, imagine if on this broadcast tonight, we announced that 100 million americans were starving. that would make it roughly a third of our population, and that's what officially qualifies as a famine. well, it's one way to put the magnitude of the story playing out right now in the greatest human disaster on this planet. it's happening in east africa. the horn of africa where babies and children are starving in a wave of suffering now from somalia to kenya. and as we add to the size of our team of journalists there, nbc's kate snow has made it now to kenya. she's on the ground at a u.n. compound. kate, good evening. >> reporter: good evening to you, brian. we're about 60 miles from the somalia border here.
think of dadaab as an oasis. somalis know if they can just get here they can get food and water and potentially survive. but it is straining the system. as we flew this today, we could see just how fast this tent city is growing. for hundreds of miles, nothing but parched, bright orange earth. and then we see it. the world's largest refugee outpost. the white tents are the official housing. but look at the outer brings of makeshift shelters. signs of desperation. about 1,200 people arrive here every single day. every one of them with an unreal story. alima carone une left her deaf husband behind and left with her five children. only four made it. this woman arrived friday night. we were attacked along the way, she say. all of our bags taken. we have nothing.
we hope we'll get help here. this afternoon at the newest official camp opened last monday, people were settling in. kids playing in the dirt, making water barrels into toys. u.n. agencies are building as fast as they can, but they just can't keep up with the influx. >> it's not just the numbers, but also the conditions in which they arrive. we have never seen so high levels of malnutrition among children arriving. people arrive tired after walking for three or four weeks in some cases. >> reporter: ade sharif and her two little girls left their home in mogadishu a year ago fleeing the violence between a government and insurgent group. when the drought made life even worse, they headed here. it's not perfect. at least her children are fed and safe. at the moment, she says, we've found peace. in the city she fled, somali's capital, mogadishu, government troops have been fighting to open up aid routes.
this weekend the president of the fledgling government made a show of thanking troops for gaining some fwround. but even today reports that a member of parliament was gunned down. many of the most drought-stricken region of somalia are still under rebel control. the fear is the aid just isn't getting through and the fear is by the u.n. that the famine in somalia could grow, could spread to other areas. brian, it is worth noting that 12 million people across four countries now have been severely affected by this massive drought. brian? >> thank you, kate snow, again, who has just arrived. her reporting will begin tomorrow morning on "today." we'll have more of it tomorrow night on "nbc nightly news." for those viewers wanting to help the situation, people in africa, we have a growing list of relief organizations. we're maintaining it on our website, nightly.msnbc.com. when we come back after a break, fire in the night as a part of our planet puts on a spectacular show. ♪
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the dark skies of sicily. that's mt. etna sending bursts of lava above its 11,000 foot peak. europe's most active volcano, more than half a million years old, stirring to life yet again with eruptions that are attracting both attention and concern. in this country today, it's the 50th anniversary of the debut of an invention that amazed americans and revolutionized our workplace. the ibm selectric typewriter. if you've seen one recently it was most likely on "mad men." it replaced other models with individual keys because it had the revolutionary ball of type you could switch out to change fonts. they were responsible for just about every business letter ever typed for decades before the pc and the printer then came along. and the selectrics became the wall-es of the office product salvage heap. two stories from the world of sports making news tonight.
flax k plaxico burres signed a one-year deal with the other new york team, the jets, for a little over $3 million. he'll be back in the nfl this season. and peyton manning is staying in indianapolis. the 35-year-old quarterback agreed to a five-year deal with the colts that will pay him $90 million. when you do the math as we did, it averages out to $633 for every second he spends on the field. we'll be back in a moment with an update on this crisis in washington.
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we have an update as promised here tonight. and while millions of americans have now taken on a wake me when it's over attitude toward this ongoing train wreck in washington, and who can blame them, the work goes on tonight toward the tuesday deadline. and there are some big issues on the line. and while the debate has been about republicans or democrats winning or losing, what will the people get out of this or not get out of this when it's over? before we leave you, we want to get the latest on the state of play from our team in d.c., kelly o'donnell is on the hill. chuck todd across town at the white house. kelly, we'll start with you. what do you know? >> reporter: brian, what stands out to me is that the partisan sniping seems to have been toned down a little bit and you've got
the so-called grown-ups who are at the table, top legislators with lots of experience. the white house involved trying to plan out a compromise that shares the pain politically. that's where the sticking points are now. the line in the sand issues, they seem to have those put aside. how can they measure out the pain if this deal is accepted that both parties can claim some things they want and be able to stomach some things that are hard for them. brian? >> chuck todd, it does remind me of when we've covered labor negotiations, there comes a time when everyone hunkers down, gets more quiet and something pops. >> reporter: everyone's got to hold hands, jump and make that decision to just do that at this point. if the deal is accepted tonight and house republicans can provide the path to carrying this over the finish line in the house, you'll hear from everybody tonight. if not, leave it to the markets to react tomorrow and we may see a short-term decision. because that may be the only way out of this in the next 48 hours. >> all right. two of our most hardest working, chuck todd, kelly o'donnell covering this endless story. our thanks to you both.
one final reminder about what's coming up straight ahead. on wednesday of this past week, nbc news descended on capitol hill. over 100 people on our team, we walked in with about 30 cameras, and we shot everything that moved. of course, it just so happened that we were there for our long scheduled broadcast on a critical day in this toxic debate over the looming debt ceiling fix and at a time when anger directed at congress is at an all-time high. so you'll see it all. how congress works, how congress doesn't work, over the next hour. starting the moment this broadcast is over. that is our broadcast for this sunday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we, of course, hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. goodnight for us for now. our special presentation begins right now. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com